How to Use Sound Recognition on iPhone in iOS 14

Sound Recognition, first introduced in iOS 14, lets iPhone users with hearing loss receive visual alerts when the iPhone detects certain sounds like smoke alarms, sirens, door knocks, or dogs barking.

Sound Recognition, first introduced in iOS 14, lets iPhone users with hearing loss receive visual alerts when the iPhone detects certain sounds like smoke alarms, sirens, door knocks, or dogs barking. It does this with onboard intelligence, so no network connection is required. Let’s explore how to setup and use this feature.

This is for the iPhone running iOS 14+

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Setup Sound Recognition

First, launch Settings (the gear icon). Refer to below image:

Sound 1
Accessing Settings

in Settings, scroll down and tap Accessibility. See below image:

Sound 2
Accessing Accessibility

In Accessibility, navigate to the Hearing section. Now, tap Sound Recognition. See following image:

Sound 3
Accessing Sound Recognition

Enabling Sounds

In Sound Recognition settings, tap the switch beside Sound Recognition to turn it on. Next, tap Sounds below that to choose which sounds to recognize. Refer to below image:

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Enabling Sound Recognition

Siri is Disabled

Once you enable a Sound, a message will be displayed about Siri being disabled if you Turn On Sound Recognition, or you may Cancel. See below image:

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Hey Siri message if a Sound is enabled

Now, you will see a list of switches that correspond to types of sound your iPhone can recognize, such as sirens and water running. As of iOS 14, here’s the full list:

  • Fire Alarm
  • Siren
  • Smoke Alarm
  • Cat
  • Dog
  • Appliances
  • Car Horn
  • Door Bell
  • Door Knock
  • Water Running
  • Baby Crying

Tap the switch beside each sound that you would like for your iPhone to recognize. You can enable any combination of them, or all of them. See following image where I enabled Fire, Smoke, and Dog:

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Enabling Sounds

Now, to save your selection(s), press the Back link in upper left-hand corner, then exit Settings.

The Notifications

If you wouldd like to test the Sound Recognition feature, try searching for sounds like “Smoke Alarm” or “Dog Barking” on YouTube. When triggered, Sound Recognition will place an alert notification at the top of your screen. Later, you can see a list of these alerts in your iPhone’s Notification Center. Refer to below image:

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Sound Recognition notifications

If you wish to activate other sounds or disable them, navigate back to the Sounds in the Sound Recognition screen. Also, you could create a shortcut in the Control Center to activate/deactivate the Sounds.

A Viewpoint

I usually don’t comment on what Apple engineers intended to do or how a feature is to work. This feature does work as advertised. But, if my house was on fire and the alarm goes off, I want my iPhone to blast our a fire alarm sound. What good is a notification alert; yikes, my house is burning! I don’t have time to grab my iPhone and launch the Notification Center. To me, this is a flaw.

While sleeping, I would like for my iPhone to blast out the sound of a fire or smoke alarm and call 911. Other sounds you might wnat to hear through your iPhone is Baby Crying and Water Running. For these reasons, this is a poorly designed feature.

At the same time,I realize that Apple wants no liability claims for missing sounds, like smoke or fire. They chose not to use the iPhone as an alarm in Sound Recognition.

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